Friday, February 25, 2011

The Bird Egg Bean Story & Recipe

We're having yet another snow event this morning in northern Pennsylvania. Arthur is enjoying a two-hour delay to the start of school and he's immersed in his new apple growing book. (The call just came that school is closed today!)
Our contribution to the recent potluck growers' event last weekend was a pot of baked bird egg beans. The seeds for these beans (similar to French Horticultural Beans) have been saved year to year since they were introduced to this Pennsylvania farm by the Gooch family from West Virginia when two Gooch siblings married two Metzger siblings in the 1940s.
I enjoy introducing others to these tasty beans that are a favorite of our whole family. They're shell beans that we've grown on fences the past few years, though they also do well twining near the ground. The sturdy plants put out colorful pink and green pods filled with 6 - 10 fat beans that are beautifully speckled – burgundy and cream colored.
They're blanched briefly and then frozen. The family enjoys them cooked with a generous amount of butter in the cooking water, served with salt rising bread.
We've been experimenting with other ways of using them and I modified the following recipe from one of the Moosewood cookbooks.
1 large chopped onion
4 chopped garlic cloves (mine came Wooleylot Farm right here in Potter County)
2 Tb. olive oil
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 green or red peppers, chopped
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 - 1/2 tsp. cayenne
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 qt. jar home-canned tomatoes
1 Tb. maple syrup (could also use honey, brown sugar or molasses if you prefer)
1 Tb. Dijon mustard
4 cups cooked bird egg beans
Saute the onions, garlic, celery and peppers in the oil for about 5 minutes until softened. Add the seasonings and continue to cook for 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Add tomatoes, maple syrup, mustard and bring to a simmer. Add the beans and transfer to a baking dish. Bake at 300 degrees until some of the liquid has evaporated. Taste for salt and pepper and serve.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

About Chickens ... And Nostalgia

Tradition - heritage - legacy - nostalgia – all are words that seek to describe the indescribable stew that is stirred by living – and farming – where forebears have done the same. Arthur's tending chickens – and every time he steps into the chicken coop, he can hear and see his Pa who tended chickens in the very same space.
Our chicken project had its beginnings with an embryology project at school last spring. Looking at organic methods led us to Windy Ridge Natural Farms in Alfred, N.Y. This well-run and certified organic poultry farm is an inspiration and we appreciate the advice and knowledge its proprietor, Tim, has shared. So when Tim needed to find a home for some elderly hens late last fall, we added them to our small flock, heading up to Alfred under the cover of darkness so as not to upset the ladies! And in the meantime, Arthur ordered some peeps from "My Pet Chicken" – a business whose name says it all!
So now we're harvesting some lovely eggs of many hues and shapes – enough to even sell a few!
The ladies enjoyed their time outdoors on Sunday afternoon - just before the latest storm of winter covered the chicken yard with 15+ inches of snow.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Growers' Gathering

We braved the howling winds last evening to spend time with other "farmer types" at the home of Fitz and Sharon Fitzgerald, the proprietors of Fitzgerald Family Farm (aka Cheery Hill Farm). They took the initiative to bring together local folks who are committed to marketing produce locally. (Sharon has blogged more extensively on the gathering at her site: www. It was a delightful evening as we shared a bountiful potluck supper and traded tales of our adventures (and misadventures) as farmers. We also worked on a plan to be involved with the Farmers' Market on the courthouse square in Coudersport as well as some possible other locations in the Coudersport area. Thanks Fitz and Sharon – and also everyone else! We look forward to getting together again soon as we all plow these new fields together!

Friday, February 18, 2011

I'm On A Shallot Kick!

Earlier this week my friend Anne was describing to me a wonderful recipe she'd tried for a breakfast casserole and said "it called for shallots but I substituted onions." Enough said! I hereby resolve to continue my campaign to introduce this little community to the wonderful difference that shallots (especially those raised locally) can make!
Here's a vegetarian recipe that features shallots.
Garbanzo Casserole
5 cups cooked chickpeas (or use 3 cans of chick peas) (Note: If you haven't tried cooking dried chick peas, I encourage you to do so. Of course, they must soak overnight before cooking and they do take some time. You will be rewarded with much better-tasting garbanzos!)
1 cup cooked brown rice
4 large shallots, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
2 large eggs, beaten
1 cup cottage cheese
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1/2 cup fresh parsley
fresh rosemary (leaves only)
2/3 cup dried bread crumbs
Olive oil
Preheat the oven to 375°F and lightly grease a 3-quart baking dish with olive oil. In a large bowl, mix the chick peas with rice, shallots, garlic, lemon zest and juice. Season with salt and pepper.
Mix the beaten eggs in a medium bowl with the cottage cheese, yogurt, and 1/2 cup of the Parmesan cheese. Fold in the parsley and rosemary and gently incorporate with the chick pea mixture. Spread the mixture in the baking dish and top with the remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan and the bread crumbs and drizzle with olive oil. Bake until bubbling and golden. As with most casseroles, let stand for 10 minutes before serving to allow the flavors to mellow.
And on a different note ...
It's amazing what a few days of above freezing temperatures can do! We're marooned in a sea of dirty melted snow water and mud but I'm not complaining and neither are the chickens who are enjoying time outside. It sure has boosted their egg production!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Shallot Mashed Potatoes

Here's a wonderfully simple recipe that incorporates two vegetables grown at Metzger Heritage Farm. There's nothing quite as good as mashed potatoes made with organically grown spuds. The true taste of potato shines through without the off-key notes sounded by sprout-inhibitor and herbicides and pesticides.
Shallot Mashed Potatoes
5 cups diced potatoes (no need to peel when organic!)
1 tsp. salt
1 cup shallots, peeled and finely chopped
2 Tb. butter
1/3 - 1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup Parmesan or cheddar cheese (optional)
Salt & Pepper to taste
In a cooking pot, cover potatoes with water, add salt. Cover pot and bring to a boil and simmer until potatoes are soft. Meanwhile, saute the shallots in butter until soft (about 15 minutes).
Drain the cooked potatoes and return them to the pot, together with the shallots. Mash together, adding just enough milk to make the potatoes fluffy. Add cheese (if using) and then salt and pepper to taste.
Serve and enjoy immediately.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Shallots In The Kitchen

Okay, I'll admit it. For years, when I read shallots as an ingredient in a recipe, I'd substitute onions or green onions. How many of you do the same?
I was first introduced to shallots by my daughter Kate who is an accomplished cook. When I confessed my little shallot/onion secret, she only had to use shallots as they were intended in a recipe for me to know what I had been missing all those years.
Shallots are not readily available in our local supermarkets and when you venture out to Tops or Wegman's, you find them but you'll pay dearly.
That's why I decided to grow them three years ago. We've grown them for three seasons, each year experimenting with timing - both planting and harvesting, placement in the garden, and varieties.
I've refined my techniques and look forward to having more to market in 2011.
If you would be interested in purchasing shallots this fall, please let me know as soon as possible so I can plan adequately. I took the picture above yesterday so you can see that they keep beautifully.
I'll post a recipe which features shallots next time!
Update: I've joined Farm Friend Friday on If you like to read blogs, you'll find lots of farm-related ones here.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Strength From Our Roots ...

Arthur and I motored (with a nod to the long-departed Potter Enterprise correspondents) to State College on Saturday to attend the closing day of the PASA (PASA is the Pennsylvania Association For Sustainable Agriculture) 20th Annual Farming For The Future Conference. Wow!!! It was a valuable and fun experience and we're already excited about attending next year.
We could choose from workshops offered in three sessions and decided to split up to maximize our experience. The choices were varied.
I (Jane) sat in on Wes Jackson's presentation entitled "The Necessity For A 50-Year Farm Bill." Jackson was the keynote speaker on Friday and had the distinction of being a keynote speaker at PASA'S inaugural conference 19 years ago. My next choice was "So You Want To Be A Farmer: An In-Depth Look At Starting A Commercially Viable Produce Farm." After a break for lunch (where we enjoyed offerings such as no-egg salad sandwiches, quinoa tabouli and luscious whole wheat scones) and visiting as many of the exhibitors as we could, I enjoyed the presentation by two young representatives of AgSquared, a new software developer working on a product that is tailored to the needs of small farmers.
Arthur opted to attend two workshops offered by Michael Phillips of Lost Nation Orchards. Philllips is known across the country for helping people grow healthy apples and understand thehealing virtues of plant medicines. His third choice was "Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale: The Science and Impacts of Development" offered by Mike Arthur and Tom Murphy of Penn State.
We'll tell you more about what we learned in upcoming blog posts.
This is all part of planning for the 2011 growing season at the Metzger Heritage Farm on Crandall Hill. We appreciate those who supported our efforts in 2010. We still have beautiful potatoes from 2010 so send us an e-mail at or call us at 814-274-8004 to place your order.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Homestead Revival: Your New Future: GMO Plants and Food

Homestead Revival: Your New Future: GMO Plants and Food: "Please take a moment and read this post. I know it's kind of a downer, and I apologize for that, but it's so important to understand this is..."

Many of us haven't taken the time and energy to really understand that when we make the choice to spray herbicide to control "weeds," we are making an unconscionable choice to poison ourselves, our environment and our children. This blog post at Homestead Revival provides an explanation about GMO and Monsanto's signature herbicide . Take the time to read it.